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Messages - Gwathdring

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The Sprawl / Re: The Sprawl: Beta version
« on: April 18, 2014, 02:02:22 AM »
This is a vote heavily in favor of the name "Soldier." To me it painted an excellent picture--a veteran, an expert, a professional fighter. Someone not just good at what they do, but used to doing it. Thats what comes through in the moves and I think the name encapsulates it nicely. :)

I never got around to doing a proper write up, sadly, but a few things I will note:

When we played, we changed a few of the moves.

We made Maneuver a little more seize-by-force-y, allowing you to spend hold to "Impress, dissuade, confuse or embolden" your enemies instead of taking +AP which seemed a little uninteresting especially since the rest of the move was already heavily weighted towards combat math. Taking +AP frequently works out so as to merely be a +1 or +2 harm--+2 is a lot, but again it felt like redundancy in the move.

We made some slight modifications to the Research questions:

•Where would I find _____?
• How secure is ______?
• What is the relationship between _____ and ______?
• Who or what is most closely related to______?
• Who or what is ______ most valuable to?
• Who else has an interest in ______?

These are mostly just changes of wording that made it more apparent to us what each question was doing and how it could be abstracted to less literal purposes--a keystone of the Apocalypse World system.

And the Check it Out questions:

• What should I be on the lookout for?
• What is being concealed from me here?
• How is _______ vulnerable to me?
• What is my best way in/way out/way past?
• Who or what is my biggest threat?
• Who or what is in control here?

Our logic here was to shore up some things we thought were missing or not differentiated enough. Since Check it Out is for both reading people and reading a situation, we wanted to make it less abstracted when dealing with people. We also wanted to respect that reading people is quite clearly harder. We thought, aesthetically, characters in this world are interested in needs and values and movements more so than feelings and thoughts--so we wanted to reflect that by adding "What is being concealed from me here?" as a nice multi-purpose question. We also combined "What Just Happened" and "What is about to happen" back together into "what should I be on the lookout for?" because we didn't see the point of the distinction. "What just happened?" we reasoned reflects that the charged situation is already over and the move can't trigger in the first place and/or that there is clear evidence something of interest happened and thus that the MC or the players have every reason to simply play the scene out and ask-and-answer more organically. These questions don't, we felt, add anything to the discussion between the player and the MC. Every question needs to hold up to the player trying to choose between them when they have a limited hold to spend. Choosing between "What just happened" and "What is about to happen" means you either you have to read the MC's mind as to whether the upcoming future or the immediate past is of more interest and import or you're leading the MC to establish an interesting past or an exciting future ... but seeing as doing those two things is one of the core guidances of the entire game system, leading the MC to do either of those things in that particular way is somewhat redundant. "What should I be on the lookout for" still works as a generic question that allows the MC to feed things to the PCs and the PCs to prompt the MC for information of interest just as it does in AW, but our question list becomes more efficient. Finally, by asking "What does ____ want?" we take up an entire spot in the list with something that is tricky for many players to apply outside of Read a Person contexts and we get access to information that, in The Sprawl's setting I feel, should be more guarded (and mechanically, ought to be more guarded if we want Research to important); by changing it to "What is being concealed from me here?" we create instant-intrigue with the word "concealed", allow for the unveiling of social information AND of non-social information, and get the MC thinking about concealment and secrets throughout more of the game.

Finally, we changed Play Hardball so that it was just a renamed go-aggro. We wanted to make a different move ... but we weren't sure how to and we didn't like Play Hardball. I'd be curious to hear what you were going for--from where we stood, it seemed like a very-slightly less interesting Go Aggro. We contemplated simply shortening the move by condensing the repetitive options to a single one: "Back down [calmly, angrily, or fearfully]" but once we did that, we added "barricade themselves securely in" back because it was already so close to Go Aggro we couldn't see the change doing much fictionally for the game to justify providing less choice. The MC can already decide if someone backs down angrily, clamly, or fearfully. A good MC makes that kind of choice all the time; we didn't understand why Play Hardball made that choice explicitly mechanical or what the justification was for removing "barricade themselves securely in." Again I'd be curious to have your thoughts on that.

We also used very-slightly-altered versions of Paul Taliesin's variant harm moves instead of the default harm system. I like how much more brutal and interesting it feels, and the finality of it really strengthened the ruthless feeling of The Sprawl for me. :)

That's all of the tweaks I can remember though there well may have been more. Our characters were plunked down in Union City, a floating city in the Atlantic with a New Hengsha-style Upper and Lower city (the lower being underwater and relying entirely on artificial light). Almost the entire game took place below. Union City's main function is as one of the biggest food producers in the world with a lot of local food production (fish farming and hydroponics), and brutal lordship over a lot of regional food production. The city's movers and shakers were the Son's of Posidon (a cult-like anarchic organization bent on reclaiming Union City and in particular the food production chain from global corporations), Emerald Blue (genetically modified food company, focus on massive fishery industry and trying to develop a working relationship with Union City via the Ocean Party), The Ocean Party/Formerly Democratically Elected Party of Union City (a ham-fisted proxy government cobbled together from various interests that successfully ousted the legitimate government after losing an election cycle ... technically the ouster was legitimate but that was mostly because it was rigged by ...) The Union City Gazette (a megalomaniacal power broker that's also a news agency; they engineered the election away from the Reconstruction Party (now in exile elsewhere drumming up support for a military reconquest) and have a hand in everything), Phi Comm (a communications giant that has rather big plans), Jinteki (clone worker company inspired by Netrunner and banned from function in many city-states but grudgingly allowed to do it's least acceptable research locally by the malfunctioning illicit government of Union City due to desperation for cash and a desire to ask as few questions as possible), and a few other choice ones but this list is getting long. We had six players, so lots of stuff going on!

The players themselves were led by a corporate clean-up enforcer/logistics expert Lysistrata (Soldier), lover of a not-quite-top-dog at Phi Comm who was at the center of some plottings that I thought the players would get in the way of but that they ended up just ... not getting involved in not so much out of disinterest as happenstance. I love apocalypse world so much because it taught me how to stop worrying about railroading and enjoy watching evil/intrigue go on offscreen. It was cool to watch not-exactly-evil triumph without fanfare not because it was hidden but simply because I followed the principles: what would these people do? What's their next step? From the player view, there was lots of intrigue and it felt like a web of wild conspiracy ... but I didn't have to work that hard to make it happen! I didn't have to plant red-herrings and make up complexity. It's just that the simple 1-2-3 dealings of massive entities look very different from the ground-floor. It was such a cool experience for me. Player number two was a gifted if terribly immature teenage hacker named Colonel_Panik! who lives with his parents (he got screwed up by some Black Ice and forgot who his mom was near the end of the game leading to him running away and being reported as a missing person to the cops which caused all kinds of problems ... it was glorious). The next player was a sociopathic tech named Zelazny who kept lying his way into a tangled mess of mistrust and double-dealing. Then, after Lysistrata, our only other successful and put-together player--an infiltrator going by Swift. Rounding things off we had two absolutely bat-shit Killers--Count Jack (who sold people-parts to a chop-shop-doc Knockout and famously spent most of his in-game time running around with a lifted cybernetic arm off a Lynd-Reiss rent-a-cop trying to get the tracking software out of it so he could sell the thing) and Kumara Rain (boyfriend of the next-in-line regional operator for Emerald Blue and wanted contract killer and public menace across pretty much all of Union City ... who ended up with said arm installed on his body and ended up in an epic an terrifying bro-mance with Count Jack (by that point an NPC) for the finale ... and eviscerated most of Zelazny's gang and almost himself in one shot with his horrifying mono-filament bola-launcher).

Ah. Good times. There were also advertisement whales with bio-electric skin that occasionally get hacked by teenagers for highly illicit but highly spectacular whale fights in the under city's park/aquarium/central-square thing, and a chuckee-cheese-alike, Flippy's (mascot is a whale with thumbs) that puts a designer neurochemical in their food that causes people to give the trademark thumbs-up-and-grin gesture and that systematically reprograms problem teenagers into good employees (including most of Colonel_Panik!'s friends by the end of the game). My favorite thing about Flippy's is that all of the most horrible things about that company were jokes made by the players--I just did the name and the chuckee-cheese comparison ... everything else was some little detail someone else made a one-off joke about that I ran with much to their horror. :P

It was a lot of fun. Sorry this is only semi-coherent; the game was quite some time ago now.

Thanks for the hack! It's a lot of fun to play with. :D

The Sprawl / Re: The Sprawl: Beta version
« on: October 16, 2013, 07:15:34 PM »
I had a lovely game with the Alpha version that I have yet to remember/motivate myself to collate feedback for. So in case I don't get around to it while it's still fresh enough and I still know where all my notes are, I just want to say thanks a million because it was a blast! But I do hope to get some feedback to you.

Apocalypse World / Re: Form Fillable Playbooks
« on: October 05, 2013, 12:43:57 AM »
I've had a lot of luck using Inkscape both to make custom playbooks (I made sheets modeled after John Harper's for running The Sprawl). You can use it to simply "fill" a PDF as though it were a form, too. Unfortunately it does not support multiple pages as a single document. If you want a multi-page sheet it has to be multiple files edited as separate images/pages. To do things the standard Adobe way without buying Adobe's software... I PDF Edit works though it is somewhat clunky and in my personal experience kind of unstable. I don't recommend it for anything more complex than adding fillable-form boxes to things, and I remember one of either the Linux of Windows versions was missing a ton of features compared to the other version.

If you're willing to use some kind of sharable and/or web-based document format other than PDFs ... going with SVG instead of PDF lets you get a bit fancier with Inkscape. I've also heard that Scribus makes easy-to-use forms.

There's also always the Google-Doc (or similar) method! I'd honestly recommend a more Internet-friendly approach as opposed to a straight-up digital version of the standard playbooks, whether or not you make your own forms.

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